|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Epic Games|
|Release: September 20, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Joshua Wirtanen
The Gears of War series is the third most popular game series on Xbox 360, only behind Halo and Call of Duty. So the forthcoming Gears of War 3 is a big deal. But every time a big name sequel is announced, there's a tendency for the news to cause a nervous flutter amongst the fans. Will the sequel truly live up to its predecessors? What could a sequel possibly provide that the original could not?
Epic Games keeps these questions in mind as they work to provide a third installment they hope will be worth the price tag. So far, it looks like Gears of War 3 strives very hard to please. Yes, there have been a few delays, but this just means that Epic is working hard to make sure the product that releases is as solid as possible.
Of course this means online play must run smoothly from day one. Anyone who bought Gears of War 2 at release probably still has bad dreams about the sloppy handling of the online modes during those first few awkward days. But Epic has learned from its mistakes, and is doing whatever it takes to make sure that disaster is not repeated. This time around, Gears of War has dedicated servers instead of using the client-server only model found in Gears 2. That's right. Players are no longer at the mercy of the potentially slow internet connections of other users. This should help keep the lag to a minimum, and will even the playing field, since in client servers, the host will always have an advantage over other players.
Gears of War 3 will include a new gameplay mode called Beast. Remember Horde mode in Gears 2, where you had to fight off wave after relentless wave of Locust? Well, this is the opposite of that. You get to play as various Locust classes and fight off waves of humans. There are tickers, which are basically scurrying suicide bombers; boomers, beefy users of heavy weapons (they like things that go "boom"); berserkers, which can charge enemies with the force of a speeding train; Kantus, the healers; as well as others.
Some of these classes will be locked when you first start the game, but Epic wants to make sure there is a fairly good selection of Locust to play as right out of the gate. The Epic team have expressed their concern about the current state of video games, not liking the fact that you can pay $60 for a game, yet have to spend hours upon hours unlocking things in order to even begin enjoying it. So while there are certain things locked in the beginning, there are enough options open that the game will still be a blast to play before you unlock all of those extra goodies.
The other multiplayer modes are getting revised as well. Annex mode is getting absorbed by King-of-the-Hill, making for a greatly improved version of King-of-the-Hill in which the location your team must hold will change after a set increment of time. Team Deathmatch is being added as well, but with a special Gears twist: each team will be given a limited collective amount of respawns, and once those are used up, dying will knock players out of the match.
There is a new version of the popular Horde mode introduced in Gears 3, but Epic is not ready to talk about it yet. Judging by the improvements we've seen already, we have high hopes that the new Horde mode will be at least as satisfying as the old one.
There have been some gameplay tweaks as well. One exciting new feature allows players jumping over an obstacle to kick an opponent on the other side. Epic hopes this will encourage more aggressive gameplay and discourage players from spending too much time cowering behind obstacles.
And story mode is back, of course, offering both solo play and up to four player co-op. The story of Gears of War 3 takes place a year-and-a-half after Gears 2. But don't worry, if you want to find out what happens during that eighteen-month period, just check out the novel series by Karen Traviss, who is also writing the script for the Gears of War 3 game.
It sounds like Gears of War 3 will give us a satisfying conclusion to the series. In an interview with Spanish gaming website MeriStation, Gears design director Cliff Bleszinski had this to say about the story: "You can expect that we'll answer the majority of the questions that players have about the history of the world and what's going on. We're not going to answer everything, but I can tell you this will be the conclusion to a trilogy." So, it looks like we'll be getting some closure with this chapter.
With all the great new features Gears of War 3 boasts so far, it's definitely bringing change to the Gears series. Whether it's a positive evolution or a negative one is still yet to be seen, but so far, this game looks like it's going to be a worthy finale.
CCC Freelance Writer